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Intel Inside

Entry 180, on 2005-06-07 at 15:55:32 (Rating 1, Computers)

The big news in the Mac world this week is that Apple will switch the CPU they use in the Mac from the IBM PowerPC they use currently, to the Intel Pentium, the same chip currently used in PCs. While this move has been anticipated for a while now, its still quite a shock now that it has happened.

Is this a good or a bad thing? For Mac users it should be a good thing. That's assuming Apple can manage the transition over the next year or two without any major software compatibility issues (and they have already managed the 68K to PowerPC and classic OS to OS X transitions brilliantly). For the industry overall, its not good, because it now means there is only one type of processor used in computers. The ironic thing is that the big game console manufacturers (Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft) have just committed to switching to chips based on the PowerPC!

How will this affect Mac users? Well, if all goes well, we should see faster Macs because IBM are currently struggling to increase PowerPC speeds. We should also see cheaper Macs, because Intel processors, which are mass produced, are cheaper than the PowerPC equivalent. Hopefully we will also get better battery life in laptops. And finally PC emulation on Macs should now be much faster and easier.

ButmMost users won't notice anything different, because the CPU isn't really an important part of the overall Mac experience. Macs are better than PCs for three reasons. First, the hardware is well designed, elegant and reliable. Second, the Mac has the best general purpose operating system. And third, Apple produce some great Mac-only software. None of these have anything to do with the CPU.

Reports from people who have seen Intel-based Macs at WWDC indicate the new machines are fast. We should be cautious of demos at conferences, of course, but at least this move will remove the issue of Mac vs PC speeds from the debate regarding which is the superior platform.

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Comment 1 (43) by Kiwi-Todd on 2005-06-07 at 16:19:50:

I wouldn't mind so much if I hadn't been force fed stats like these for the past 2 years....
http://www.apple.com/powermac/performance/
I feel a little naive!

Link http://www.apple.com/powermac/performance/

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Comment 2 (44) by OJB on 2005-06-07 at 20:36:35:

The performance of the PowerPC has been competitive in the past, so the ads weren't really untrue. But the G5 generates too much heat and can't be used in laptops. Also the future progress of the chip was limited because of a lack of commitment from Motorola, then IBM.

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